24 February – Eurogroup Teleconference

The 20 February Eurogroup meeting had ended a chicken game with a compromise: Greece would extend the previous loan agreement by four months (to give negotiations a chance). The institutions would allow Greece to replace the existing MoU with a list of reforms proposed by its government.

Read the Greek reform list under discussion

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (00:00):

… of your responses or questions. And can I first, first ask the Commission, [inaudible] or Pierre, to uh, give their headlines.

Speaker 2 (00:10):

Uh, yes, uh, thank you, Jeroen. Well, uh, commission, uh, has, uh, carefully reviewed the reformed proposal sent yesterday to the, uh, President of Eurogroup. And, uh, this has been preceded by, uh, contractual exchanges, uh, over the weekend between the, between the Greek authorities and, uh, European commission, and also other, uh, institutions. So, in the review of the commission, this list is sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review as called for by the Eurogroup at it’s last, uh, meeting. Let me stress, uh, however, that the list does not include sufficient detail to allow us to assess each specific measure, and how that impacts on a budget, or on the overall program targets. Further specification of the reforms in this and other key areas, uh, is expected to be provided and agreed before the end of April. This is also in line with last week’s, uh, Eurogroup, uh, statement. Uh, we consider the Eurogroup statement of the last Friday as a basis.

Michael Noonan (01:27):

Michael Noonan.

Speaker 2 (01:29):

Uh, it is therefore regrettable that, uh-

Speaker 3 (01:33):

Has entered the conference.

Speaker 2 (01:37):

… that the letter by the Minister does not, uh, directly to refer to the commitments in this, uh, statement, such as, for example, to deliver primary surpluses and financing proceeds [inaudible] to guarantee that sustainability in line with November 2012 Eurogroup statement. Uh, we also find it rather unusual that the letter is not formally signed and does not refer to any actual government decision in this context. So the legal status of the letter is therefore not fully, uh, clear. Uh, importantly, this list does not substitute in any views, uh, memorandum of understandings, which constitutes the official legal basis for the program underpinning the master financial assistance facility agreement. It is also important to recall that the Greek authorities are permitted to refrain from any rollback of measures and unilateral changes to the policies and structural reforms that would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability as assessed by the institutions.

Speaker 2 (02:48):

Uh, Any policy initiatives therefore, should be discussed ex-ante with the three institutions. And now I would ask Pierre to, uh, elaborate further on some critical, uh, details.

Pierre Moscovici (02:59):

Um, okay colleagues. Um, in general I would say we are encouraged by a number of commitments in [inaudible] to contractual factual evasion and corruption, uh, [inaudible] through efforts to modernize tax and customs administration, as well as to pursue reform to modernize the public administration. However, we, uh, must be, uh, think realistic and that’s to be discussed, about how fast these reforms can deliver results. Uh, there are other areas where the commission believes that more must be done, including in the area of statistics, where we consider, uh, it of vital importance that the institutional and operational independence of ELSTAT, and [inaudible] consider at all times the new government must, uh, take, uh, immediate visible steps to show determination for change in these areas. Believe a revision of the legal framework is, uh, needed.

Pierre Moscovici (03:54):

In other areas, urgent and deferential, uh, in-

Speaker 3 (04:00):

Has entered the conference.

Pierre Moscovici (04:02):

… urgent deferential and immediate decisions ought to be taken, uh, as the uncertainty of the past weeks has been, um, damaging and destructive. First, in the financial sector we believe the government must reiterate as soon as possible, in a very clear manner, uh, that key pillars of reform as agreed under the MOU, uh, to settle the markets and diplomatics. Uh, similarly, um, taxation and installments, the government must take urgent action, uh, to clarify it’s intentions, so that taxpayers begin to pay again taxes and social security contributions. And decisions should be taken, uh, swiftly in a full, uh, consultation with these three institutions.

Pierre Moscovici (04:42):

Uh, second, on privatization, um, our feeling is that the government should instruct the agency to proceed with the ongoing standards also swiftly. So, the commission, uh, looks forward to, to, to, to working with the new administration to, to elaborate what are, are still at the moment general commitments, and transform these into, uh, clear policy actions. We would also like to underline our willingness to continue to provide, uh, technical assistance in key areas, to, to assist in the design and, and the implementation of policies. Uh, to sum up, I won’t be longer, in the view of the commission, this is, is sufficiently comprehensive to be, uh, a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review. It is not at all something that means that the review is concluded or on the way to be concluded, and I think this was, uh, what we were asked by the Eurogroup, and our answer is clear on that point.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (05:44):

Thank you very much, uh, as always, Pierre. Uh, let me turn to the uh, ECB. Mario?

Mario Draghi (05:50):

Yes, thanks Jeroen. Thank you. As, uh, as we discussed the… in such short time, was certainly not possible for the authorities to come up with their own list of complete proposals and commitments, which would allow us, the institutions, but especially ECB to assess the impact on growth, public finances and financial stability. I note that the commitments outlined by the authorities differ from existing program commitments in a number of areas. But having said that, the list sent by the Greek authorities covers a wide range of reform areas, and in this sense it’s appreciably comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review.

Mario Draghi (06:40):

Now, let me make a few additional remarks. We understand consistently with the Eurogroup decision last Friday, that the list doesn’t call into question that the current arrangement, and asks existing commitments in the current MOU and MEFP are the basis for the review. In cases where the list deviates from the MEFP and the MOU, we will assess during the review, where the measures which are not accepted by the authorities are replaced with measures of equal or better quality in terms of achieving the objectives of the program. We would appreciate if the Greek authorities would make very clear and public that there will be no rolling back of existing reforms or commitments in any of the areas mentioned in their list. Any new measures or laws in these areas will only be implemented once agreed with the three institutions. Unfortunately we still continue to hear conflicting messages between the communication to the Greek general public and the comit- and the commitments to this group.

Mario Draghi (08:03):

Second point concerns the payment culture. The list we are discussing today was not used for this purpose. In the coming days, we would expect very clear statements from the highest levels. The concern is to previous announcements. First, there will be no initiatives by the government on broadening or relaxing installment schemes, and the measures to strengthen tax enforcement and payment discipline will urgently be discussed with the three institutions. Unfortunately, even this morning, we are hearing conflicting message from Athens.

Mario Draghi (08:41):

Second, there would be no new moratorium on auctioning of residences, nor any other restrictions, which makes it difficult for banks to effectively work out the NTLs. I think it should be in the interest of Greece, first and foremost, to have a viable credit system. If banks are not viable, they won’t give any credit. I made this point several times.

Mario Draghi (09:03):

There will also be no initiative for any general or horizontal debt relief for private creditors. I mean, Jerome, with your agreement I would like to make a point on the difference between the Eurogroup statement and uh, this, uh, the statement here about the [inaudible] bonds for bank recapitalization. Can I make it now?

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (09:25):

[inaudible] well, either, either now or, uh, discuss it further in the Euro Working Group on Thursday. Uh, you raised the issue with me when we spoke, it may be useful to adjourn to a newer working group as I said. We among each others were very clear on how the decisions on the use of the [inaudible] bonds, uh, would take place. It would be… it would take place on the basis of the ECB SSM decision. They are the ones who trigger the use of these funds, uh, for recapitalization purposes. Uh, that’s what we agreed in Eurogroup. Uh, any further debate on that issue, I think, should be… should take place in the Euro Working Group, if that’s all right.

Mario Draghi (10:11):

Thank you, Jeroen. So I… I understand as the draft amendment of the master financial assistance facility agreement that has circulated yesterday will be in line with the statements agreed on Friday.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (10:26):

Yes. And if anyone has any further comments on that, then I think it should take place in the Euro Working Group, uh-

Mario Draghi (10:33):

Okay. Thank you. Then for me, if I have this assurance there is no need to raise this point. Thank you. Then I’m finished.

Wolfgang Schäuble (10:41):

Sorry, may I, may I… Jeroen, can I take this [inaudible 00:10:47]?

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (10:48):

Yes, please.

Wolfgang Schäuble (10:49):

Uh, I would be… Uh, uh, it must be totally clear, because I will cr- it will create, uh, in- incredible problems in my parliament. We have in, in no way any amendment through the given agreement. We have stated in… on, on, on Friday, um, onto the [inaudible] but if, uh, problems, they will only be released on request by… on request by the ECB SSM. That means the bus- the last decision to be made by the institutions in [inaudible] otherwise it would be a change of the… of the ame- of the treaty, of the MOU, and that is not what we can go to, to Parliament. We are going for an extension, but not for any change in the [inaudible 00:11:35]. Therefore, my, my, my, my demand is only don’t create the discussion or misunderstandings that there will be any amendment, uh, to the, to the given agreement.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (11:49):

Um, don’t worry uh, Wolfgang, there will be no changes or amendments to the statement we, we saw Friday. In that particular sentence, there are two aspects. One is, as you said that it’s… the release of these funds will be on request by the SSM, but you could also read they will be released on request by the SSM. In other words, formally, there may be a decision to be taken, um, but they will be released on request by the SSM. In other words, if the SSM finds it necessary, this recapitalization, the funds will be released. So there are both aspects in one sentence. Um, we’re not going to change the statement, that would cause a lot of problems of course. Uh, if anyone wants further clarification, I think it should take place in the Euro Working Group. It’ll be about procedures, but not about the political decision we took.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (12:45):

If, um, I may be continue, I would like to, uh, ask, uh, Christine, for her assessment.

Christine Lagarde (12:55):

Thank you very much, Jerome and good afternoon to all of you. I will not repeat the content of the letter that we issued last night. I could, uh, literally endorse and exalt all the points made by Mario, except the last one, which is quite separate. The two points I will come back to to insist upon, is number one, that the discussions on completion of the review, which should start as soon as possible, and for which we are ready, to be successful, can not be merely confined within the policy parameters outlined in the government list. And I think the reference to the MOU and the NESP by Mario was particularly relevant.

Christine Lagarde (13:45):

The second concern that I have, which was also mentioned by Mario, is the constant and recurring noise that we hear from Athens, and which echo around the world in a way that is inconsistent with what is indicated in the memorandum of the list issued by the Greek authorities. And there is real constant reference to backtracking. That includes expectation of im- impending changes to the pension scheme that backtrack on policy commitments, as well as changes to the general tax, uh debt installment fees, that already have, uh, weakened, uh, the revenue collection by the Greek authorities. So, Yanis, if you would, with us on the call, I would urge you to reduce that noise and make very clear that there is one single list and not a Greek list separate from your list.

Christine Lagarde (14:53):

Finally, I think it could be extremely helpful, certainly from our perspective, if, uh, Yanis could explain to all of us the government’s current liquidity position, as well as how it is proposed to move forward. With that, as I said, uh, we stand ready, and we’re eager to, uh, begin the real work, which will not be about putting, uh, words on, on paper, which will, we’re not associated to over the weekend, but that’s fine. But clearly, the actual review work now needs to begin. Thank you.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (15:23):

Thank you Christine. Um, I would now like to turn to Yanis to pick up on a couple of points raised. Uh, I think we all fully understand that the detailed work has yet to begin. Uh, and we must all fully understand that all the legal documents and the basis for the program of support is unchanged until further, um, works out, details discussed and agreed with the institutions. So that’s the basis on which we, uh, work. Uh, Yanis, can I ask you to react on the couple of issues raised by, uh, Mario and the Commission, uh, Christine?

Yanis Varoufakis (16:09):

Yeah, sure. Thank you so much, uh, Jeroen. Let me… how I would begin by thanking, um, you, as the president of the Eurogroup, for your role in helping establish the necessary common ground to reach where we are at present. I also want, want to thank the institutions for, uh, um, the constructive relationship we had over the last 48 hours, and for so swiftly reading our list and coming to the verdict or the recommendation that you have come. I do believe, and the government believes, here in Athens, that we now have a firm basis on which to build a solid agreement, and, uh… for the next four months at least, and, uh, work towards, uh, the review. Let me now, uh, do as, uh, you said Jerome, and address, uh, some specific issues that were mentioned.

Yanis Varoufakis (17:04):

Um, there are some minor issues which we can deal with very, very swiftly. That the letter wasn’t signed, it was sent at midnight, so, um, there were technical issues involved there, but we can deal with that. This is a response to one of the commissions points. Um, the question of no unilateral moves, and the need to collaborate with institutions in everything we do has been mentioned by all three institutions. I shall convey this view to my government. It is our in- intention not to make any such moves, as we have stated in our letter to the Eurogroup. We have, uh, every intention to collaborate with institutions and to make sure whatever we introduce in parliament and whatever measures are, um, discussed and deployed, uh, should be discussed and deployed in conjunction with agreement with institutions.

Yanis Varoufakis (18:06):

Pierre Moscovici mentioned, uh, ELSTAT, the Greek statistics office, and suggested there should be no revision of the legal, um, framework and the autonomy. We understand perfectly well the need not to return to the bad old days of Greek statistics, and we as a government have absolutely no intention whatsoever of interfering with the work of ELSTAT. But let me say that this kind of autonomy has to cut both ways, in the sense that both Eurostat, and the Greek government, and every member state and all the institutions must have, um, confidence in the workings of ELSTAT. At the moment, I cannot tell you that I do. That is a separate issue from, uh, keeping ELSTAT at an arms length from government. What I would like to do is discuss with institutions and with Eurostat, ways in which we can regain confidence in ELSTAT.

Yanis Varoufakis (19:11):

But that is completely separate from the point that Pierre Moscovici made. I shall reiterate the point. We shall under no circumstances, uh, do anything to jeopardize the autonomy of ELSTAT, uh, and we shall do nothing without the consent of the Commission of the IMF, of the ECB, uh, of the Eurogroup in this direction. But I do believe, this is the view that some of us in this government have, who’ve looked into the operation of ELSTAT over the last few months, that we need, uh, for all of us together to have another at the way that ELSTAT functions. Uh, but again, let me make this very clear, this is not something we intend to do alone. We want to do it in conjunction with you.

Yanis Varoufakis (19:52):

Regarding the financial sector and tax compliance, this is a point that each one of you made, each one of the institutions made, um, there is, um, lack of trust regarding installment schemes. Let me remind you that this installment scheme that is now on the statutes in… here in Greece, was introduced by the previous government. And I do believe that, uh, the institutions had, uh, objections to that. We are happy to look at these, uh, installment schemes together with our… with, with institutions and with all our partners. There is a very crucial problem here. Th- th- th- th- the level of arrears, uh, tax arrears, as you probably all know reaches 90 percent of the Greek government budget. Now that is a huge amount that has to do with… is a result of the deep crisis of this, uh, social economy. And we need to deal with this, and we need to deal effectively with it by ensuring that whatever it is that we do does not encourage, indeed, punishes strategic non-payment, while at the same time finds ways of dealing with dealing, of giving those who can afford to pay a portion only of what they owe a way of doing this, especially given the current state of our financial situation.

Yanis Varoufakis (21:13):

Um, on the NPLs, and I take very seriously what Mario Draghi and the ECB are saying about the need to, um, ensure that the capitalization of banks is not threatened by, uh, our policies regarding, um, NPLs. Again, it is important to note that we have very special circumstances in Greece, which I’ll not do… make any, um, uh, unilateral move on this, and of course we need to have the backing of the ECB in everything we do.

Yanis Varoufakis (21:49):

But let me…since we are talking about this, let me point that, that there are special circumstances. We have a realistic market that has tanked and the notion that we are going to have options of first residences in order to bolster the capitalization of the banks is one that, uh, that needs to be discussed. And, uh, we need to discuss it with you. This is not the venue to do it. But there are serious worries that a massive increase in auctions, uh, in the tanking market is not going to help the banks while at the same time is going to create side-effects in the capacity of the social economy, both to increase, uh, the tax take of the government, and, uh, to increase economic activity. But let me say that, uh, this government is determined to discuss with institutions and arrange common agreement with them on how to deal with these, with these matters.

Yanis Varoufakis (22:47):

Now, on the question that Mario Draghi raised regarding the FSF and the HFSF, uh, let me just state that, um, for the record to rest everyone… um, rest assure everyone that this government is not going to request for an amendment of the Friday Eurogroup agreement. Um, we are more than happy to go along with that agreement, and to see the FSF retain the control of the remaining funds, in order to use them for the purposes of recapitalization of the banking sector and resolution, possible resolution. Uh, on the, on the question of, uh, a rollback, especially when it comes to privatizations, um, on this matter, as you will see from our… from the relevant entry in our list, we have, uh, made it very clear that completed, uh, um, completed, uh, privatizations are going to be considered to be sacrosanct from this government. The ones that have been launched will be dealt with in accordance to the law, and in ways that, uh, combine the public interest with the need, the necessity of collaborating with institutions and with the Eurogroup.

Yanis Varoufakis (24:07):

Let me finish by, uh, addressing Christine Lagarde’s two points. The first one is an assurance that I can give Christine and everybody in this conference call that there exists no separate Greek list, separate from the one you have. Of course, as you can imagine, our… this list is only, uh, a five page document. Uh, we have, uh, um a series of, uh, commitments to the Greek public. We shall not make any moves, as I said before, that, uh, undermine the bonds of trust that we are trying to build currently. Um, but there is no such thing as a separate Greek list. There may be different interpretations of, uh, the current, uh, state of negotiation, of exchange between us, of commitment. And let me just make this t- t- this point a bit more tangible.

Yanis Varoufakis (25:06):

I heard from all three institutions the statement that, um, this list is not a replacement of the MOU, and that this list is going to simply being grafted upon the MOU or we will have to negotiate ways in which the current MOU will have to be amended. Now, as you know, we’ve spent three Eurogroups discussing the imperative of combining the existing program with, uh, the, the new government’s priorities. And I th- I have… I am… I was under the impression, and this government was under the impression that we are making a fresh start without challenging the legal existence of the MOU.

Yanis Varoufakis (25:51):

We shall insist on maintaining, in a collegial manner, this constructive ambiguity, um, and we are going to try do, to do our, ou- our, our best in order to ensure that the review is completed, on the understanding that this governments, um, um, list that you have in front of you, is taken, um, as the starting point regarding th- th- the judgment that is going to be passed upon us over the next four months. The next four or five months is a very short space of time. If we can do what we agree that we should do by April, um, and do it in the spirit that con- that confirms both the existing program and the intention of moving on, and moving ahead, and moving to a new relationship after June, I think that will be an excellent way of moving ahead.

Yanis Varoufakis (26:48):

I was asked also by Christine Lagarde to explain the liquidity condition of the government. I’m not in a situa- in, in, in, uh, in a position to do this presently. Uh, the… as you kn- as everybody knows, especially the International Monetary Fund, our liquid- liquidity condition given the destabilization of the Greek economy over the last two months, uh, is not good at all. But my understanding was that today, what we are doing is we are setting the scene, establishing the base, the foundation, for beginning immediate discussions on all those matters including the fiscal cap that we are facing over the next few weeks, in particular, the repayments of the IMF loans in installments, which are coming up soon. Um, it was a discussion we couldn’t have until today’s hurdle has been overcome, but it is a discussion that we are prepared to begin even tonight, if you so wish.

Yanis Varoufakis (27:44):

Um, I think I have spoken enough. I want to thank, once more, the institutions. The way I understand this conference call is to answer the question whether our list is sufficiently comprehensive to act as the starting point of a process that will stabilize Greece and our relationship with, uh, the Eurogroup and the institutions, in order to build trust and to move ahead. Thank you.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (28:06):

Thank you, Yanis. Um, let me for, uh, opening, uh, the, the, the floor to other ministers. Uh, we iterate that the basis that we are working on is the Eurogroup statement which, um, uh, talks about on the base of the framework of the existing arrangements, uh, underpinned by a set of commitments which are then spelled out. And I think one of the key ones there is that starting from the current arrangement, there can be use of the given flexibility that had to be always after consulting and agreeing with the institutions any changes to the arrangements. I think that could… that clear issue, and you underlined the, um, uh… how the Greek government is committed on this point.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (28:59):

Um, on top of that, we now have the list which is a third list of reform measures, based on the current arrangements and the institution that provided us with their first views, which, um, uh, was, if I summarize it, that the list is sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the reissue. Um, I think those are the key, uh, elements. This is where we are, this is how we will work, and all of this… If the national procedures are started and successfully, um, finished by the end of the week, then, very intensively, the work can start on many of the issues that were brought up, uh, and, um, many of the issues that you mentioned.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (29:50):

Now I’d like to-

Christine Lagarde (29:50):

Jeroen? Jeroen? Can I, can I just come in for uh, uh, a few seconds to, um, reinforce your point, and also mention just for the clarity of what we bring in the next few days, that the review is a comprehensive review. It can not be a scattered, fragmented review of some items and not others. It has to be comprehensive in order to lead to success, and then [inaudible 00:30:15]. But it’s comprehensive.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (30:17):

That’s right. Thank you for your remark. Um, the floor is to new ministers, who can I give the floor? Uh, any of-

Wolfgang Schäuble (30:30):

If I may… uh, uh, Jeroen, if I may I can, I can say a few words.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (30:35):

Please, Wolfgang.

Wolfgang Schäuble (30:37):

I would, uh, uh, start, uh, saying to the institutions for this, uh, first view on, on, on, on the list that we got, um, in time, uh, from Greek authorities, and therefore we are in line with the statement from Friday, and that is the, the key. And on this, on this basis, I think, uh, it would be, it would be very helpful, uh, that we will not, uh, uh, change anything that was just mentioned in the HFSF. And it must be totally clear what we are asking of our parliaments is an extension of the given agreement, nothing else. Not an amendment of the agreement. Uh, it has to be, uh, very clear. We will do it as, uh, already initiated to measure and the legislation procedures, I need to, of course, um, the, the common decision of the Eurogroup in this conference call, but I think on the, on, in, on the basis of the list we got from, from Greek authorities, uh, and uh, with, with, with the use of the three institutions, uh, we should, uh, we should move on in this way.

Wolfgang Schäuble (31:43):

I would, uh… [inaudible] but I would like to, to, to add, uh, a few remarks. In, in this, um, in the, in the, in the Greek list there has not been mentioned, it’s not a [inaudible] but I won’t like to repeat it. Uh, it was an issue of the budget 2015, that is a major issue for, for the ongoing review, uh, for the, for a successful revision of the program. And then I would like, uh, to add, uh, that in the list of the, of the Greek authorities, the BRRD implementation is not mentioned, and I think, uh, Greece, uh, should transpose this directive into Greek law as a matter of high priority.

Wolfgang Schäuble (32:27):

And last, uh, last in my, uh, in the area of labor market reforms, the issue of collective dismissal, that is not yet addressed as also I think it should be… have in mind. And, uh, the, uh, the end of April when we will… when, when that is the time [inaudible] will be further specified and then agreed with the institution. Uh, but, once again, uh, it would be clear on this pages, we could, uh, agree to a common statement that will align us to trust you on the basis of first view of the three institutions. There we would, uh, uh, uh, go on in the national, uh, procedures to, to agree on the extension of the program in this week.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (33:11):

Thank you Wolfgang. Um, think on the issue of the budget of 15, um, the statement, uh, made quite clear where we stand in terms of the fiscal targets, the Friday statement and the other two issues will have to be, uh, picked up in the process in the coming weeks. Um, and the same would go for the, uh, collective, uh, uh, dismissals. Any changes there would, uh, be wanted or necessary or required, that would have to be in the context of, uh, changes to the MOU, which can only be decided together with the institutions, at the latest, end of April. Um, any other comments or questions from the ministry?

Yanis [not Varoufakis] (33:57):

Jeroen [inaudible] speak-

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (34:00):

Yes, Yanis.

Yanis [not Varoufakis] (34:04):

Thank you, Jeroen. I would like to thank, uh, the institutions, uh, for their job, and, uh I agree with this all. Uh, there are numerous systems in institutions I would like to [inaudible] when we want things that, uh, [inaudible] state of integrity of Eurozone and EU, whole program, uh, our countries should be treated equally [inaudible 00:34:25], probably it will be. And I would love, uh, I would like to ask, uh, some, uh, help or, or from, from Yanis, so from Yanis. Yanis, help us please to keep in calm our public, uh, opinion and our public opinion. An- and, uh, don’t push us to answer, um, your, uh, your signals from Greece. Because it’s, it’s not, uh fair that uh, we sit in one room and, uh, decided about one, and, uh, then we get, uh, uh, opinion of, uh, one hundred fifty, uh, Greek, uh, the Greeks. And, uh, I think it’s not, not fair, and our… we have, we have electorates too in our countries, and, uh, uh, we should something tell them, and, uh, believe what they say. Allowed to keeping calm on this situation. Thank you.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (35:29):

Thank you Yanis. Um, I think, uh, your point on helpful communication is made by all of us. Also, the institutions refer to it. It will be very helpful for the credible whole process that we are now entering that we communicate, uh, in one way, and not differently in Europe and at home. Uh, I think that’s a very valid point to make. Any other new-

Luis de Guindos (35:58):

Jeroen, this is Luis..

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (35:59):

Luis. Go ahead.

Luis de Guindos (36:02):

Thank you very much. First of all, let me thank the institutions. Uh, despite the fact that, uh, you know, these are the endorsements, with caveats that I have heard in my life. But also, I think perhaps an indication of, uh, you know, a high level of escape criticism, that I think that is something that is relevant. But anyhow now I would like to stress some points. The first one is that we are starting a process. And this is something that is, uh, you know, quite, uh, quite relevant, because, uh, you know, we will have to finalize uh, in April a new memorandum that will be based in the, in the present arrangement. And this is something that, uh, I think that we have to, to maintain, and to keep it very clear.

Luis de Guindos (36:43):

Another one is about communication. I fully agree with Janis that, uh, the Greek government, you know, is [inaudible] live, you know. It’s [inaudible] approaches only create problems, you know, in terms of communication. So it will be, uh, you know, so important that, uh, all the, all the messages are fully aligned with the process that we have, uh, started now, and that, uh, you know, the beginning of the, of the, of the process, and that, uh, creating unnecessary noise is not going to be very helpful. Thank you very much.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (37:20):

Okay. Thank you Luis. Uh, any other colleagues?

Michael Noonan (37:28):

Um, hello?

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (37:30):

Hello. Who’s there?

Michael Noonan (37:31):

[inaudible] it’s Michael.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (37:32):

Michael, go ahead.

Michael Noonan (37:35):

Yeah, I’d like to welcome the work of the institutions also, like other colleagues have done. Uh, when I saw the Greek list I was disappointed. I thought it lacked specifics, and there’s no arithmetic on [inaudible 00:37:51]. But in the context of what we were seeking as an extension to the existing program, and any substitution of conditions, uh, would have to be fully costed and, uh, fully vouched for by the institutions, uh, then I’m, I’m prepared to, uh, wait and see, and go ahead with the process. But I can see, uh, some difficulties at the end of the process for a successful review of the program. That being said, I won’t, uh, I won’t debate the meeting.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (38:27):

Thank you, Michael. I think it’s, uh, fair to remember that, um, this was only a first list of reform measures from the Greek authorities, which we asked, and it’s not been, uh, elaborated on, not been negotiated on with the institutions. So it is what it is, uh, and the question was formulated by the Eurogroup whether it was, um, comprehens- sufficiently comprehensive. So I think that’s where we stand, and that the real negotiations and getting the details right is a long process that’s yet to start. Any other colleagues at this point?

Maria Luís (39:09):

Jeroen? Maria Luís. Can I ask a question? Uh, it’s, um, [inaudible] I’d also like to echo, um, thanking the institutions for the, this first assessment, and I’m sure we’ll all, all have a lot to discuss in, uh, in the coming weeks and months. But, uh, getting to the point that several colleagues raised, communication is critical here. So, uh, maybe you were going to say it anyway, but, uh, I think that we should have an agreement here on what communicators this will be. Letters of assessment via the institution have been made public. Uh, will there be a statement plus debate meeting? How do you intend to, uh, to communicate going forward, because we have the whole press waiting to hear what comes out of this conference call. Thank you.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (40:02):

Um, Maria Luís, thanks. That was my… the last, uh, item on my agenda today, to talk about communication. So, let me come back to that in a minute. Let me just check if, uh, any more, uh, comments on the list and the Commission’s first… sorry, the institution’s first view on the list. Uh, if not, we can turn to communication issues. One is that your question, what is public, or going to be made public, in the-

Mario Draghi (40:34):

Jeroen? Jeroen? Before, before… just to get, uh, make sure that I have understood. Do I understand that, uh, the previous agreement will be in… fully respected?

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (40:50):

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Mario Draghi (40:53):

Thanks. Thank you.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (40:54):

I’m not going to change a single word. Um, um, the first question by Maria Luís was what documents will be made public. The commission has made it’s letter on the list public, I don’t think the other two institutions have done the same. So perhaps they can indicate whether they want to make it public or not. And Yanis, perhaps you can indicate whether your list is made public, or will be made public, or how would you like to proceed with that? Uh, can I ask Mario first?

Mario Draghi (41:30):

Yes, certainly. We can make it public. No problem.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (41:34):

Uh, thank you. Christine?

Christine Lagarde (41:37):

Yeah, we can make it public too. We thought it would be polite to the group to wait until the conference call was over.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (41:43):

Agreed. Thank you. Yanis?

Yanis Varoufakis (41:46):

Yes, uh, we would very much like to make our list public. Uh, for some reason it has already been made public even though it certainly did not leak from our side. Um, but, l- l- let… if I may say, on the question of communication, uh, Jeroen, that, uh, my… The view that, uh, Luis, uh, expressed is the one that we can run with very happily and, uh, profitably. And that is from our perspective, we see today as the beginning of a new process. That we very much look forward to completing in association with our partners and institutions.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (42:26):

Thank you. Um, and colleagues, as we are speaking, uh, there is a very short Eurogroup statement, a draft, which is being sent to, uh, your deputies. It should come in, uh, any minute. Uh, it reads… It uses exactly the words of Friday’s statement, uh, and it sounds like this. “The Eurogroup today discussed the first list of reform measures presented by the Greek authorities, based on the current arrangement, which will be sp- further specified and then agreed, but with the institutions, at the latest by the end of April. The institutions provided us with their first view, that they consider this list of measures to be sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review. We therefore agreed to proceed with the national procedures, with a view to reaching the final decision on the extension by up to four months, on the current master financial assistance facility agreements. We call on the Greek authorities to further develop and broaden the list of reforms, measures in close coordination with the institutions, in order to allow for a speedy conclusion… I should say, a speedy and successful conclusion of the review.”

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (43:48):

So that is the draft statement. It should come in, uh, in, in your deputies email boxes. Perhaps you can, uh, look at it for a minute, and I would ask for reactions.

Yanis Varoufakis (44:04):

Jeroen, I’m quite happy… This is Yanis Varoufakis. I’m quite happy to accept it just from having heard it.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (44:11):

Thank you.

Mario Draghi (44:28):

Jeroen? Jeroen?

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (44:31):

Yes, Mario.

Mario Draghi (44:32):

On…I have one, one suggestion. In the last, uh, paragraph it says, “We call on the Greek authorities to further develop and broaden the list of reform measures, based on current arrangements.”

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (44:47):

Okay. [inaudible]

Mario Draghi (44:51):

On the current arrangements.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (44:51):

It will become the list of reform measures based on current arrangements. That is the-

Mario Draghi (45:00):


Jeroen Dijsselbloem (45:00):

…which we were.

Mario Draghi (45:04):


Jeroen Dijsselbloem (45:05):

Okay. Any other comments from colleagues? If not, I think that, uh, we can use this, and we’ll put that out, um, shortly after this conference call. And any other business, let’s see. I think there is a Euro Working Group on Thursday, a regular meeting on Thursday, uh, we can take stock of, uh, national consultations. They may not all be finalized by then, but just to take stock, and, uh, talk about the further procedures for the ESF Board of Directors. Um, And they can… well, in the end, take the formal decision, um, following the Euro Working Group meetings, and once the national procedures have been concluded, of course.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem (45:57):

At our next meeting, this is the 9th of March, we will again take stock of the developments in Athens, and of course, in the mean time, I invite the institutions and the Greek authorities to continue their hard work. Thanks again for all the hard work that has been done over the last couple of days, but to continue their work, that would allow for a successful conclusion of the review as soon as possible. Um, if no other comments then I think I can thank everyone for joining this meeting and I will close this Eurogroup meeting. Thanks again. Thank you.

Yanis Varoufakis (46:35):

Thank you.

Transcribed by

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